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David Dickson, Developing country researchers get 'open access' boost, SciDev.Net, March 29, 2004. A report on last week's announcement from OSI that it was funding memberships in PLoS for research institutions in developing countries. Excerpt: "The new grants programme...will cover the costs of 12 months' 'institutional membership' to PLoS for 50 selected institutions in developing and transition countries (the latter referring primarily to former communist states in eastern Europe)....OSI officials say that the new programme reflects their commitment to the principle of free access to the results of scientific research, and in particular to the potential benefits that open access models of scientific publishing offers to researchers in the developing world. 'Scientists in poorer countries have been virtually excluded from the journal publishing world,' says Darius Cuplinskas, director of the institute's information programme. 'Open access journals will remove barriers and make these scientists full members of the international scientific community. "
Richard Gallagher, Above and Beyond Open Access, TheScientist, March 29, 2004. Gallagher describes a recent debate on a matter of public concern --whether research on animals benefits humans-- and shows how open access to the underlying research articles prevented the discussion from becoming polarized into the black and white categories used in the press reports that would otherwise have been the sole source for most of the participants. Gallagher praises BMJ both for providing OA to the research article that triggered the discussion and for publishing Rapid Responses from all sides. Excerpt: "With BMJ, we have more than open access; we have open review. This method achieves a critiquing level that is not possible with just peer review, publication and subsequent media coverage. It is surely in all our interests for the BMJ model to be widely adopted by other journals that publish research that is of immediate public interest."
Brian Weatherspoon, NYU Graduate Student Conference, Thoughts Arguments and Rants, March 22, 2004. Weatherspoon's blog posting lists speakers and topics at the Columbia/NYU Graduate Conference in Philosophy, and then makes the following point: "By the way, if you want to read two of the papers Kelly Trogden is criticising, Tamar's paper is here and my paper is here. Isn't open access scholarship a wonderful thing!?"
For a workshop next week on Scholarly Communication as a Commons (Bloomington, Indiana, March 31 - April 2, no web site), all the participants are writing articles. Mine is now online, Creating an Intellectual Commons through Open Access. Consider this a preprint. After the conference, I'll post a new version (not a PDF!) with revisions and working links for the endnotes.
Stephen Pincock, Initiative to exchange cancer research information is launched, BMJ 328, 728 (27 March 2004). BMJ reports on the British National Cancer Research Institute's (NCRI) plans for a data-sharing initiative, analogous to CaBIG in the U.S. (See posts from 3/7/04 on CaBIG and from 3/17/04 on the NCRI.) The article reports NCRI chairman Alex Markham saying that roughly 80% of cancer informatics data never becomes publicly available. "Our vision is to create a culture of data exchange to bring scientists together in a virtual community, where data can be shared in a format that everyone will understand," he said. (Source: iHealthbeat)
The April issue of Learned Publishing is now online. Here are the OA-related articles. Only the abstracts are free online, at least so far.
Learn it, live it is an open-access web site in English and Spanish on pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, aimed at teenagers. An interactive Risk-O-Meter lets users evaluate their risks of STD's. The site also offers anonymous Q&A with participating doctors and an OA library of myth-debunking information. The site was created by the University of Texas Health Science Center and funded by the National Library of Medicine, the agency behind PubMed Central. (PS: Imagine making this a for-pay site.)
Guenther Eichhorn, The ultimate astronomical library, Astronomy Magazine, March 25, 2004. A detailed and enthusiastic review of NASA's open-access Astrophysics Data System (ADS). Excerpt: ADS "is a NASA-funded project that provides free World Wide Web abstract search services, as well as access to scanned articles of astronomical literature as far back as 1821, when the oldest astronomical journal, Astronomische Nachrichten, was first published....The ADS currently holds over 3.7 million references in four databases: Astronomy and Planetary Sciences (988,000); Physics and Geophysics (1.6 million); Space Instrumentation (707,000); and ArXiv Preprints (269,000). The Astronomy, Physics, and Instrumentation databases contain abstracts from hundreds of journals, publications, colloquia, symposia, proceedings, Ph.D. theses, and NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) reports. The Preprint database contains all preprints from the ArXiv Preprint server, to which many authors upload early versions of their scientific papers. Visitors may search all abstracts by author, title, or abstract words. In addition to the Abstract Service, ADS has scanned a large part of the astronomical literature. The ADS Article Service provides free access to scans of over 341,000 scientific papers published in astronomical journals, conference proceedings, newsletters, bulletins, and books, for a total of 2.6 million scanned pages."
The ALPSP has announced its Principles of Scholarship-Friendly Journal Publishing Practice. It released the principles today at a London conference of the same name, although the document containing the principles is dated January 2004.
Summary from the press release: "It is in our interest as publishers to satisfy the needs of our authors, readers and institutional customers to the best of our ability; this entails paying close attention to what these communities are saying, and collaborating with them to develop new approaches as need arises. Scholarship-friendly publishers maximise access to and use of content; we also maximise its quality and, thus, prestige. It goes without saying that --by one business model or another-- publishers need to make enough money not just to cover our costs, but also to satisfy the needs of our business, and to continue to support the activities to which publishing income may contribute. However, we recognise that institutions' funds are increasingly inadequate to purchase all the information required by users, and we welcome collaboration with our customers to find new approaches which might solve this dilemma." Excerpts from the principles themselves:
We've known since March 16 that Pat Brown, Mike Eisen, and Harold Varmus --the founders of PLoS-- had won the 2004 Wired Magazine Rave Award in the category of science. But now the April issue of Wired has come out with a write-up of winners in each category. Excerpt from Ted Greenwald's article on PLoS, For cracking the spine of the science cartel: "If science is a search for universal laws of nature, why do scientific journals copyright the papers they publish and charge as much as $20,000 a year for a subscription? 'It's insane that the scientific community has allowed publishers to limit the impact of our research,' says UC Berkeley geneticist Michael Eisen. Starting in the late '90s, Eisen and two of his colleagues, Stanford molecular biologist Patrick Brown and Nobel Prize-winning oncologist Harold Varmus, tried to work with traditional publishers to make research more widely available on the Web, but the publishers wouldn't cooperate. So the three scientists devised an end run: the Public Library of Science. In October 2003, PLoS published [its] first open source, peer-reviewed journal, PLoS Biology."
Yu-li Wang and 14 coauthors, Biomedical Research Publication System, Science Magazine, March 26, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "In the present system, journal Web sites serve primarily as 'mirrors' of paper journals and therefore can publish only a limited number of accepted manuscripts. However, as the output of research increases, existing journals no longer provide sufficient space for the volume of information....There are a number of serious consequences to this problem. The direction of research is dictated more and more by publishability in high-profile journals, instead of by strict scientific considerations, while fields not deemed fashionable are facing an increasing shortage of young researchers....The fierce competition for publication in high-profile journals may encourage aggressive behavior and discourage others from staying in academic research. We believe that modifying the current system may alleviate the above problems. Because of the striking differences in volume and cost, paper journals should be used to complement, rather than duplicate, what is published on the Web. Thus, the new system we propose would consist of a high-capacity Web site for posting peer-reviewed papers. A paper version of the journal would be reserved for the fraction of the Web-published papers that have made the strongest impact." (Thanks to Alexei Koudinov.) (PS: Note that this proposal is equally compatible with open-access and toll-access models. One advantage not mentioned by the authors is that it would make it easier for journals to experiment with OA.)
David Malakoff, Scientific Societies Lay Out 'Free Access' Principles, Science Magazine, March 26, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "Nonprofit science publishers have felt besieged in recent years by both commercial competitors and open-access advocates. They say soaring prices for commercial journals have forced librarians to cancel some nonprofit titles, and they argue that a shift to an open-access business model would threaten revenues that support a host of other society activities, from meetings to training young scientists. Society officials note that they routinely give journals free to scientists in poor countries and immediately post many important papers. Most societies also release all technical content within a year. But those points have been drowned out by 'the noise being generated by open-access advocates and concerns about subscription prices,' says Martin Frank, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based American Physiological Society and a lead author of the DC Principles. The statement, which was signed by the publishers of 380 journals, is 'a spirited defense of the status quo,' says Johnson. But other analysts say that it sidesteps key issues, such as whether scientists can retain ownership of their papers." (Thanks to Alexei Koudinov.)
Richard Danner, Issues in the Preservation of Born-Digital Scholarly Communications in Law, a conference presentation from March 2003, apparently revised for publication. A useful survey of preservation and version-control issues for eprints in legal scholarship. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
There are two new contributions to the Nature OA debate:
Anat Hovav and Paul Gray, Managing academic e-journals, Communications of the ACM 47(4), 79-82 (April 2004). (Access restricted to subscribers.) Hovav and Gray consider e-journals from a number of economic and distribution factors, pointing to their increasing acceptance by researchers, as well as difficulties in marketing and archiving, but not addressing the open access question. Rather, they point to the decline in the percentage of "free" journals, thus remarking their unsustainability. (Source: Confessions of a Science Librarian)
Lawrence Lessig's new book was published today: Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity , Penguin Press, March 25, 2004. Lessig is releasing it under one of his own Creative Commons licenses, so that you are free to view the full-text online (a 352 page PDF file) and free to "redistribute, copy, or otherwise reuse/remix [it] provided that you do so for non-commercial purposes and credit Professor Lessig."
Yesterday, the Australian Department of Education, Science and Training released its report, Review of Closer Collaboration Between Universities and Major Publicly Funded Research Agencies. Excerpt: "Broadly speaking, the key driver of collaboration is the existence of a perceived benefit. This can take many forms such as the creation of critical mass, increased funding, or intellectual enhancement or a combination of all three. Key drivers identified in the submissions include...rapid and flexible access to new ideas...." (PS: The report takes no position on open access to publicly funded research.)
Today the Lund Directory of Open Access Journals passed the 800 mark and now lists 802 peer-reviewed, open-access journals.
Yahoo maintains Free Full Text, a directory of over 7,000 scientific and scholarly journals. The directory is not limited to peer-reviewed journals or to journals that permit more than "fair use". Journals needn't offer free access to all their content, provided they do so for at least one whole issue --such as all issues older than six months. When a journal qualifies, the directory tries to link directly to the free content, not to the journal home page. It organizes the journals alphabetically by title, and offers no subject organization and no searching. Despite these limitations, it's very useful and Yahoo has the resources and commitment to keep it up to date. For more details, see the FAQ. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.) (PS: FFT is not new but I can't tell when it launched. Does anyone know?)
On March 23, the World Association of Medical Editors released a policy statement on Geopolitical Intrusion on Editorial Decisions. It doesn't mention the recent U.S. application of trade embargoes to the editing of research articles by scientists from embargoed countries, but it seems to be aimed at exactly that kind of political distortion of science. The statement in its entirety:
The House of Commons Science and Technology committee has announced that the next session of oral evidence on journal prices and accessibility will take place on April 21. The committee will hear first from a panel of libraries and then from a panel of researchers. Representing libraries and related groups will be Lynne Brindley (British Library), Peter Fox (Cambridge University Library), Frederick Friend (JISC and University College London), and Di Martin (University of Hertfordshire). Representing researchers will be Jane Carr (Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society), James Crabbe (Animal and Microbial Sciences, University of Reading), Nigel Hitchin (Mathematics, Oxford), D.F. Williams (Tissue Engineering, University of Liverpool), and John Fry (Microbial Ecology, Cardiff University).
Jim Giles, Societies take united stand on journal access, Nature, March 25, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "Signatories to the Washington DC principles most of them US-based societies say they need publishing revenues to pay for everything else they do, from running conferences to educating the public. 'Any profit that we make goes back into the development of the next generation of scientists,' says Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society and spokesman for the group. The societies say they are responding to the launch of the Public Library of Science's first journal, PLoS Biology, last October. The free online journal generates income by charging authors $1,500 to publish a paper. But the societies say that the backers of PLoS failed to acknowledge that both traditional and open-access publishing can coexist. 'People were saying that PLoS was plotting the overthrow of the scientific publishing system,' says Frank....[Peter] Newmark [editorial director of BioMed Central] questions whether the societies should be channelling publication revenue into other activities. He says that grants and education programmes are valuable, but points out that the money ultimately comes from public sources. 'They're taxing the universities to support the societies,' he says." (Thanks to Alexei Koudinov.)
Claudia Plascencia, Academic journals to be sacrificed in library cuts, San Jose State University Spartan Daily, March 24, 2004. Excerpt: "With all of the financial uncertainty because of the state's budget crisis, departments on campus are having to deal with budget cuts, and the university library housed in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Joint Library is no exception. The university library is expecting to cut about 18 percent of its total collections budget, and an estimated $300,000 to $400,000 of those cuts will be primarily to printed subscriptions such as the printed academic journals, said Jo Bell Whitlatch, associate dean of the San Jose State University library....Departments will have until May 7 to submit names of journal subscriptions they would like to be exempt from the cuts, Whitlatch said....'We are preserving electronic resources, because those are the most in demand by faculty and students and tend to be the most heavily-used,' Whitlatch said. (Thanks to Gary Price.)
Creative Commons announces steps towards forming a Science Commons initiative. While CC licenses have appeared with Public Library of Science papers, for example, (and evidently BioMed Central,) this project seeks to "delve into both legal areas (patents, data) and subject matter (biomedicine) outside the scope of our current organization." Having gained financial support for Science Commons, CC announces an full-time opening for a manager to "drive the Science Commons exploratory process." (Source: Slashdot)
The Budapest Open Access Initiative has added a page on Important Open Access Initiatives, such as the Bethesda Statement and Berlin Declaration. It has also created an Open Access Resources page to organize some of the content already on the site such as its guide to repository software and business guides for OA journals.
Jeffrey Tucker, Books, Online and Off, Ludwig von Mises Institute, March 22, 2004. An update to Tucker's earlier blog piece. (See Peter Suber's posting from 3/15/04) Tucker points out that online books and their print counterparts are seen as complementary, fulfilling similar and disparate functions for the reader. One example discussed is Mises' Omnipotent Government, which the "current publisher" declined the Institute the rights to publish freely online. So the Institute negotiated to lease the book and pay the publisher for expected lost revenues.
What happened was precisely the reverse of what the publisher expected. Instead of lost sales, the sales of the book shot up. In the few weeks since the text went online, more copies of this book left our warehouse than during the whole of the last decade. Omnipotent Government is now a top seller in the Mises.org catalog. The publisher obtained not only the leasing fee from our offices but suddenly enjoyed a flood of new orders for the book from us.The article goes on to acknowledge the costs of publishing these texts and encourage those who benefit from their dissemination to support the Institute through membership and other contributions. (Source: The Virtual Chase)
Carl Lagoze has won the 2004 Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology. Carl is the co-creator of the Open Archives Initiative, co-inventor of FEDORA and DIENST, and one of the undisputed godfathers of online access and interoperability standards. The Kilgour Award is sponsored by LITA and OCLC, and will be presented at the LITA meeting within the ALA Annual Conference on June 28 in Orlando, Florida. Congratulations, Carl!
Yesterday Brewster Kahle and Richard Prelinger filed a suit in a federal district court in California claiming that the Berne Convention Implement Act (BCIA) and Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) together create an "effectively perpetual" copyright term for a certain category of works, and therefore violate the U.S. constitution. The affected works were published after January 1, 1964, and before January 1, 1978. Kahle, Chairman of the Internet Archive, and Prelinger, President of the Prelinger Archives, are represented by three attorneys, including Lawrence Lessig, from the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. (Thanks to BNA's Internet Law News.)
Lila Guterman, Scientific Societies' Publishing Arms Unite Against Open-Access Movement, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 26, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Quoting many society publishers in defense of their subscription-based business model. For example, Martin Frank of the American Physiological Society: "It feels good to say everything should be free. But we'd rather get there using a business model different than the one used by PLoS and the open-access advocates. It's our contention that there's nothing wrong with that, that it makes the literature available to the community of individuals who need it, in a timely manner."
Michael Geist, Low-tech case has high-tech impact, Toronto Star, March 22, 2004. Excerpt: "The Law Society of Upper Canada v. CCH Canadian, a Supreme Court of Canada decision released by a unanimous court several weeks ago, instantly ranks as one of the strongest pro-user rights decisions from any high court in the world, showing what it means to do more than pay mere lip service to balance in copyright....Just two years ago, the Supreme Court's view on copyright law was that it was there solely to benefit creators. Today, the court now speaks openly of users' rights and the need to balance rigorously the interests of creators and users."
Paula Hane, U.K. Parliamentary Committee Holds Hearings on Scientific Publishing, Information Today, March 22, 2004. Excerpt: "In announcing the inquiry in December, the chairman of the committee, Ian Gibson MP, had said 'Journals are at the heart of the scientific process. Researchers, teachers, and students must have easy access to scientific publications at a fair price. Scientific journals need to maintain their credibility and integrity as they move into the age of e-publication. The Committee will have some very tough questions for publishers, libraries, and government on these issues.' And indeed, tough questions were asked in the Committee’s request for written evidence and during the two days of hearings."
Barbara Quint, Sci-Tech Not-For-Profit Publishers Commit to Limited Open Access, Information Today, March 22, 2004. An overview of the DC principles. Excerpt: "Drafted over the past year in discussions initiated at meetings of HighWire Press publishers, the DC Principles are a response to charges that current publisher practices impede access to published scientific research. According to Lenne Miller, senior director of publications at the Endocrine Society and active member of the DC Principles organization, the initiative began as an attempt to counter the Public Library of Science’s open access advocacy, which had 'tarred scholarly society publishers with the same brush as commercial publishers.' " Quint also quotes from the pro-OA response to the DC principles by library groups and public-interest advocacy organizations.
The Information Program of the Open Society Institute (OSI) is now making grants to support institutional memberships in the Public Library of Science. Like OSI's successful, ongoing program to support institutional memberships in BioMed Central, the new grant program focuses on institutions in developing countries.
Open Court, Chemical & Engineering News 82(12), 4, 43 (March 22, 2004,) (access restricted to subscribers,) contains three responses to CEN's earlier editorial "the Open Access Myth" (see earlier postings.) Roald Hoffman calls the editorial "disappointingly negative" and says "it sounds like the automotive industry in its days of fighting catalytic converters." He calls on ACS to figure out a way to get to open access rather than trashing it. Dana Roth, a librarian at Caltech, however, points to the comparatively reasonable pricing of society journals, providing per-page cost data which favorably present ACS journals, and seconds thoughts of ACS President Charles P. Casey, who, in an earlier editorial, urged chemists to make changes from within and not submit to or review for exhorbitantly-priced journals. Finally, Irvin Levy says that ACS and others "exacerbate the divide between the information haves and have nots by the electronic distribution paradigms currently in vogue." He gives the example of his own subscription to an ACS journal which he let lapse and no longer has access to the electronic version for the years for which he subscribed. Irvin suggests as an alternative the model followed by many publishers: making the back issues free after an embargo period.
BioMed Central just released (Mis)Leading Open Access Myths, a catalog of 11 objections to OA with a careful reply to each one. The objections are distilled from the publishers' testimony in the UK inquiry. This is a superb aid for advocates and for the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee as it digests the testimony of the publishers.
Fytton Rowland, The Royal Society of New Zealand's journals: how can they cope with the changing serials environment? Serials, March 2004. Only this abstract is free online: "This paper reports a consultancy project undertaken in September 2003 for the New Zealand Government, which studied the government-subsidized journal publishing operations of the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) and made recommendations for changes that the RSNZ might make to improve the effectiveness of this operation. As well as minor operational improvements, the report also recommended consideration of larger changes, including open access, use of aggregators, and a change of the printed versions from quarterlies to annual archival editions." (This and previous item, thanks to Charles W. Bailey, Jr.)
Michael Mabe, Caveat Auctor: Let the author beware, Serials, March 2004. Only the abstract is free online: "The author argues that the fundamental philosophical tenet of open access (OA) is a noble one: that all information should be free at the point of use. However, some of the assumptions behind the drive to OA should be questioned. For example: do authors really want everyone to read their articles? Does the general public have an unsatisfied thirst for the arcane thoughts of the academy? Moreover, the economics of the OA model are open to challenge. The traditional publishing business model has developed over 300 years and is self-sustaining, insulates academic deliberations from economic issues and ensures the long-term availability and preservation of published information."
(PS: Mabe is the Director of Academic Relations at Elsevier. My short reply: the rationale of OA is to make research available to all who can make use of it. It's irrelevant to point out that some people have no use for it. As for the highly-evolved business model of subscription-based journals: after long, painful, firsthand experience, universities are disagreeing. In January, the University of California Academic Senate called it "incontrovertibly unsustainable".)
Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, Editing Ban to Be Eased, But Cuban Travel Blocked, Science, March 19, 2004. Excerpt: "After months of protests by U.S. publishers, the federal government last week said it would ease restrictions on the publication of papers from countries under a U.S. trade embargo. But that good news was offset by its warning off more than 50 U.S. scientists from attending a conference last week in Cuba, part of what appears to be a broader crackdown on travel to the communist country. Both the publications and travel policies are run by the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is responsible for enforcing trade sanctions against embargoed countries, including Iran, Sudan, Libya, and Cuba. Last September, the agency ruled that U.S. journals needed a government license to edit submissions from these four countries because editing, by adding value to the manuscript, in effect represented a financial contribution to that country and violated the Trading With the Enemy Act....Last week, however, a senior OFAC official told Science that the agency had changed its position. OFAC 'anticipates' providing a 'general license' allowing all publishers to edit manuscripts from embargoed countries, the official said, effectively ending the ban." More coverage.